Challenge.

CHALLENGE = OPPORTUNITY

A theme I’ve been heavily reflecting on.

Today I switched up my routine morning run for a +1,000 step hike up Koko Head Crater.

This is the 3rd time I’ve hiked Koko Head since I’ve lived in Hawaii, but the only time I’ve done it alone.

While I was facing the physical challenge of altitude, endurance & stamina, I was reflecting on the mental challenges that have been plaguing me – as well as the impending test of heart that I’ll soon be enduring when Don goes on his upcoming deployment.

Literally and figuratively I feel that I’ve been standing on the edge of a cliff, waiting for for the moment when I can fully embrace the goals we’ve set for ourselves. It’s been a process, but I’ve slowly come to realize that in order to be completely present for my partner,  I have to first know exactly what I want for myself, in order to be a consummate support for him, and likewise him for me.

Which is why I’ve (we’ve) decided to turn a challenge into an opportunity. There aren’t too many times in traditional marriages where there is an extended “involuntary” separation. And rather than try and force the circumstances, it seems that it just might be the perfect time for me to embark on my own independent mission.

I have a handful of promising (keeping it vague) opportunities that will take me on my own endeavor(s) that will contribute to my personal goals, while at the same time, Don is pursuing his career objectives.

I have always understood, from the first minute I decided to pursue my academic career, that knowledge comes with a burden of responsibility.

There is no way I could have/can continue to fill my head with issues, problems, and possible solutions for things that are going on in the world around me, and then be expected to sit and dwell on them without any action.

I, like most of you who will read this, have been raised without knowing the burden of real poverty, of war, of true hardship.

And through what I have learned, and what I continue to learn about, I am faced with an ultimatum.

Do I stay here – complacent in my comfortable life – sustaining what is excepted as normal?

Or do I decide that with what I have learned, I have been given the responsibility to take action, even if I am sacrificing the standards or normality to achieve the change that I know is just.

Recently we heard the tragic passing of journalist Marie Colvin who lost her life while reporting on the injustices occurring in Syria. The night before she was killed, I watched as she reported on the death of a young Syrian boy. The next morning I woke to hear the news of her death. Colvin’s death struck me as an example of someone who understood her position in society. She had the burden of responsibility, and with that she ultimately risked her life.

And so I took from this tragedy that it is a matter of knowing, of understanding, that there is so much more to the world than what we see on our “screens”. There is a human reality that is begging for our attention, and yet we turn our heads. We absorb the comfortable, the consumable, while so many suffer. So I’ve decided that I cannot sit idle with what I know.

WITH KNOWLEDGE COMES RESPONSIBILITY.

And I am standing up to the challenge, and we’ll wait & see where it takes me.

That being said, I do not an any way wish to demean the role of the military spouse. The burden alone of dealing with the hardships that come with this lifestyle are incredibly difficult, and stand alone as honorable.

It is just on a personal level, that all this is being divulged. And ultimately this is my testament to understanding that two lives that both have noble goals can be achieved together.

words of encouragement.

A few years ago I found myself feeling a little directionless. In my search for encouragement I came across a book by Wayne Dyer called “The Power of Intention”. While I read the book, I journaled pages and pages of encouraging quotes that spoke to me then, & I knew would speak to me again when I needed them.

Todd Hunter

I am so glad that I recorded these quotes, because as I was reading through my journal this morning I came across them and instantly felt encouraged and energized by each passage. I also know that others may appreciate the advice, as we all sometimes need a little outside encouragement. All of the following quotes come from “The Power of Intention” by Wayne Dyer, I hope you find them as inspirational as I do.

Treat yourself as if you already are who you’d like to become.

 

If we become what we think about, and what we think about is what’s wrong with the world, and how angry and ashamed and fearful we are, it stands to reason that we’ll act on those unkind thoughts and become what we’re thinking about.

 

When the only thing you have to think about is yourself and how you appear to others, you’ve distanced yourself from the power of intention.

 

Remember, when you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself as someone who needs to judge.

 

An uncomplicated life with fewer intrusions tolerated, in a simple setting, allows your creative genius to surface and express itself.

And my favorite quote, which is not from “The Power of Intention” but it is reflective of core of the message that these quotes discuss:

Sow a thought and you reap an action;

Sow an act and you reap a habit;

Sow a habit and you reap a character;

Sow a character and you reap a destiny.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

treasure hunting.

Last weekend Don & I visited the Honolulu Academy of Arts for their annual clearance sale, which included a tent sale of items from their lending library.

We arrived early in anticipation of a crowd (which turned out to be a smart move) and I got my hands on a J.M.W. Turner framed print, amongst a few other prints that caught my eye.

Recently I’ve been working on a few projects which remain photo-less until I feel confident enough in their progress to share them. For now here’s a look at the mess I make in the process.

Dorthea Tanning 1910-2012

A week ago, on January 31, 2012, famed surrealist painter Dorthea Tanning passed away at the age of 101.

Personally, the timing of her death has had an incredible impact on me.

Photograph by Lee Miller, 1950

For Christmas, my Mom bought me a copy of Steve Martin’s fictional novel, An Object of Beauty. On the long plane ride home from Florida to Hawaii, I became enveloped in Martin’s characters who live in the lively pre 9/11 art world of New York. I spent my first jet-lagged day back in Hawaii, in bed reading the last few chapters of An Object of Beauty and as I turned to page 234 I was presented with this image.

Eine Kleine Nachtmuik, Dorthea Tanning, 1943

An Artfix Daily article on Ms. Tanning’s death, nicely describes the painting as

Perhaps the best example of her dream-like artworks would be, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” from 1943, though it might be more akin to a nightmare.  Ironically named after Mozart’s jaunty serenade, the image shows the darkened interior of a run down hotel.  The hallway has multiple doors, which seem to stretch into infinity, not an uncommon motif in Tanning’s work from the 1940s.  Two girls are depicted, one whose hair stands on end, seemingly electrified, stands in the middle of the hall.  The other leans against a wall with her eyes closed, wearing an outfit that is reminiscent of the breast-baring costume which Tanning wears in “Birthday.”  A giant, animated sunflower looms menacingly at the top of some steps, while the door to the far right cracks open letting out a shaft of light.   The effect of the image, like most of Tanning’s work, is mysterious and titillating to the imagination.

As I have always been influenced by women surrealist painters, with the likes of Frida Kahlo, I was immediately intrigued by the image, put down the novel, and began researching the life and work of Ms. Tanning.

Birthday, 1942

Although she was often presented in the media as “the wife of Max Ernst“, her work stood on it’s own, and in my opinion she surpassed Ernst in the depth and evolution of ideas.

Photo by Lee Miller, 1946

The Magic Flower Game, 1941

Maternity 1946-47

Although Tanning had a burgeoning art career at the time of WWII, there is little political reference in her works. She was however indirectly influenced when many of Europe’s Surrealist artists sought refuge in the United States. This coincidence is how she met and later married Max Ernst, and ultimately made her way into the world of many other great Surrealist painters of the time.

Arizona Landscape, 1943

Despite the social context, Tanning managed to retain her talent, beauty, and grace while earning the respects of the art world that was mostly male dominated. Her paintings often depict the female in an expressive way that does not exploit her, but uncovers many of the dark feelings that women during this period may have experienced, yet did not feel comfortable expressing.

The Philosophers, 1952

Photograph by Robert Bruce Inverarity, 1948

As a side note, I was also amused to find out that Tanning and Ernst spent a summer in Hawaii, both teaching art at the University of Hawaii.

Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst, Honolulu 1952

In an excerpt from her biography, Between Lives: An Artist and Her World, Tanning describes the experience:

In Hawaii, during a summer interlude several years later (1952), we were invited by the art-critic-Iess University of Hawaii, there to lecture on art (Max) and to teach a class in painting and drawing (me). Teach! Me, teach! To say that I was not cut out for teaching would be a nice way of saying that my six-week tenure at the University of Hawaii was a total disaster. My students were mainly fun-loving dropouts from the mainland who had heard about how they could chalk up an easy credit or two while taking care of their suntans and other needs on the beaches of Honolulu. Besides, not having studied painting in a school (those three weeks back in Chicago with the charcoal?), how could I know what they say there? I couldn’t tell them about my hand, its secret pact with my brain and how it had found ways to paint the visions it found in there. I simply could not convey this procedure to a roomful of students waiting to be instructed in techniques. I wanted to say: “Go to a good museum of art and look carefully and with emotion at the pictures. Then go home and do the same thing as you have just seen. You now have craft. The rest is up to you.” But something told me this kind of talk might not go down. So, after lurching through most of the sessions with these gifted but mostly absent students and just as the last day drew near (they all miraculously showed up), I had an idea for our end-of-term exhibit: I would try a new take on the cadavre exquis.

Here I will ask the reader to picture a roomful of students seated in a circle around a nude model on a central stand. Starting at the top of her head, everyone draws her first four inches, then folds the paper and passes it to his or her neighbor, who draws the next four. By the time the drawing is complete, it has made the full circle; thus, sixteen drawings have made the tour of the sixteen students. (Try this. Just divide the height of the object by the number of persons who must be in a circle around it.) Needless to say, the results were outrageous. Even Picasso at his most defiant could seem mild by comparison. But the cadavre exquis was not a form of expression much appreciated by the officers of the University of Hawaii when they paid us their stately end-of-term visit. In fact, they walked by our exhibit with averted eyes. And I had thought the experiment so successful! But never mind. I basked in the gentle island lifestyle and even peered into erupting Kilauea before heading back to Sedona and our homemade house, its thirsty plants, its welcoming pooches.

—from Between Lives: An Artist and Her World. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001, pp. 213-214.

The more & more I read about Ms. Tanning’s life & work the more inspired and encouraged I became. I only realized last night, while doing an internet search for her name, that she had passed away a week ago on January 31, 2012. The timing struck me intensely, as I had only days before her death, been introduced to her life and work in such a encouraging and inspiring way.

Midi et demi (Half Past Noon), 1957

Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity…. I can only say that if a work doesn’t make being sane and alive not only possible but wonderful, well, move on to the next picture.

–from interview with John Glassie, “Oldest Living Surrealist Tells All,” Salon.com, February 11, 2002.

L'Inspiration vient en peignant (Inspiration Comes in Painting), 1973

After digesting the news that Ms. Tanning has past away, days after my introduction to her work, I’ve obsessively been studying her art. Somehow this circumstance seems to have me dwelling on legacy and mortality. Tanning lived 101 years, and spent most of them producing art – paintings, sculptures and written words – that are permanent to this world. They are her legacy. An today as she isn’t physically here to explain them, they live on teaching and inspiring beyond her temporary years.

Woman Fleeing Fear Itself ,1980

Portfolio (closed), 1992

figuring it out.

the assumed object of existence is to gain experience, lead a satisfying life, and do so with unsurpassed passion and dedication. we aspire to ascend to the greatest heights of the mind and take full advantage of this consciousness as we see fit. knowledge gained is the starting point of our mental career, and we carry this wisdom with us until the day we die.

- excerpt from February 2012 n133 of JUXTAPOZ magazine article authored by hannah stouffer

an announcement of sorts is due.

i haven’t blogged in a while. i flew back to florida for a few weeks to visit with my family, and since then i’ve been working out the details on pursuing a new career.

i have art brewing in my soul. art moves me, it motivates me, it keeps me in a positive place.

in 2011 i earned my M.A. in Political Science from The University of Central Florida. it wasn’t easy, but political science and social issues – much like the arts – motivate and complete me as a person.

in the past year or so, i’ve obsessively pursued opportunities to get a foot in the door at many organizations that are available to me here in hawaii. theses are the types of organizations where i imagined myself creating the ideal career that i’d envisioned when i embarked on my education in political science and international relations. due to the economy, or my resume, or even my status as a military wife, they haven’t panned out.

so after a string of non-degree related employment opportunities didn’t work out, i have decided to take matters into my own hands and embark on a career that embodies my artistic soul and my political/social intention to make an impact on the world in which i live.

although this is an amazing opportunity, it is not going to be easy. i have multiple journals with ideas and inspiration that are pulling me in so many directions.

my intention is to create art – in any medium – that communicates the social and political issues that beg for public exposure. i have a few clear ideas that i hope to share soon, but for now i am focusing on developing my skills through whatever imagery inspires me to put pencil to paper.

i would Sincerely appreciate your input on (political, social, cultural) ideas that you feel need a voice. 

i want nothing more than to take advantage of the special opportunity i have been given to communicate issues of importance to humanity.

it’s been a while since i’ve committed myself to the arts, so skill wise i feel a little rusty. but i’m taking classes and developing my craft in hopes of making my passion work.